I loved every minute I spent reading this 1,000+ page door stop of a novel. And it was quite enjoyable keeping track of the several characters Dumas introduces in this work. It's epic, I'm telling you, dear reader. And reading it is akin to getting shots of adrenaline every now and then. Yes, it's a book with caffeine that seems never to let up.
Most readers would feel daunted by the heft. But the effort is truly worth it. I like that it also somehow gives you a history lesson on France during the time of Napoleon, and its depiction of French society in the mid 1850s is fascinating. I never knew that so much financial aspects go into one's marriage, to the point that the families involve would compute for the exact amount the families would be getting from the marriage.
It's a good thing that I've never seen a movie adaptation of this book, so I have no expectations whatsoever. Reading it is more or less similar to watching a daytime soap, complete with all the betrayals and the backstabbing and the fainting ladies and the hissy fits. Ah, The Count of Monte Cristo is melodrama in its finest form!
One of the criticisms against this book is that it apparently has very weak female characters. I think that this book doesn't have these characters because it really was a product of its time. Women were just seen as individuals raised to be pretty and to get married to somebody preferably with position and money. But there's one interesting female character in this novel though, and that's Eugenie, who does get what she wants in the end, which is to get the hell out of the circus that is French society.
And other criticism is that some chapters seem contrived and some situations tend to be too convenient for the reader's taste. I agree. The scene where Abbe Faria discovers who specifically betrayed Edmond Dantes comes off as a bit iffy. And the count does seem to be in the right pages at the right time. But what the hey, I just went with it. It was a great ride, and one that I'd like to take again soon.
Now I'm curious. Is The Three Musketeers as thrilling as this one? Would Dumas's other works be loosely based on real-life events like the one in The Count of Monte Cristo? There's only one way to find out, no?
Read this book if:
- You never feel daunted by French door stoppers.
- You just can't say no a classic adventure story.
- You love melodrama in your novels.